Building a Better Basecamp Alternative


Any company that produces a project management software product has to contend with the long shadow cast by 37Signals' Basecamp product.  For many within Basecamp's original market of web designer, the product is practically synonymous with project management.  Yet while Basecamp is a great product, you can compete and win against it.

Basecamp's Assumptions


Basecamp was designed for a specific set of customers.  In fact, the product began when 37Signals built Basecamp as an internal tool to help manage the company's web design projects.  As a result, Basecamp makes a number of key assumptions:


  •  Basecamp is for small teams
  •  Basecamp is for task management
  •  Basecamp gives you one way to manage projects


Let's look at each of these assumptions


Basecamp is for small teams

Basecamp's technology, organization, and user interface are designed for small teams.  Want to hook up Basecamp to your existing LDAP system for single sign on?  Want to separate out the work of different departments?  Need to sort through hundreds of projects?  Too bad.


Basecamp is for task management

Basecamp is also optimized for task management--that is, being able to assign specific tasks to specific people with specific due dates.  You can attach files to the individual tasks, or write up notes, but these are secondary features that aren't highly developed.


Basecamp gives you one way to manage projects

Basecamp offers a very specific philosophy of project management, assuming an egalitarian team of equals.  Yet for most, teams are more complex.  You might need to distinguish between project managers and individual contributors, or between core team members and outside consultants.


PBworks: The Basecamp Alternative


PBworks offers a better alternative to Basecamp for people who don't meet all of Basecamp's key assumptions.  For teams that do meet those key assumptions, Basecamp is an excellent choice.  But if you need more flexibility, PBworks can provide it:


PBworks is for teams of all sizes

PBworks is an enterprise-grade product that also meets the needs of larger organizations.  We provide advanced technology, like full LDAP and Active Directory integration, greater organization such as user groups and network collections to subdivide and separate different departments and units, and market-leading search and filtering to make it easy to manage large quantities of data.  Some of our customers store terabytes of data across thousands of individual workspaces.


PBworks is for project collaboration

PBworks offers task management, but also integrates that task management with file storage and sharing.  You can tie specific tasks to specific files and wiki pages.  But those files and wiki pages also exist independently.  You can organize them into folders, and even collaborate on them outside the task management system, with revisions, comments, and sharing.


PBworks lets you decide how to manage your projects

PBworks lets you manage your projects your way.  We have the flexibility to support any folder structure, and to create templates to standardize all the common types of projects.  The key is to give you the flexibility to adjust PBworks to your work process, rather than forcing you to contort your work process simply to fit with PBworks' assumotions.


As a bonus, PBworks also offers a true freemium version, which allows you to sign up and take as much time as you need to figure out how to use PBworks to manage your projects.  Rather than being forced to decide based on a 60-day trial, PBworks lets you upgrade when you need to.


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